May 1, 2014; Isaiah 25:1-5
25 O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name;
for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin;
the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.
When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm,
5 the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds;
the song of the ruthless was stilled.
I remember the first night in my new apartment after I moved out of the home I had shared with my ex-wife, after putting my daughter to bed, I sat in my easy chair in the living room and although I was surrounded by boxes I was too exhausted to continue to unpack…or to think, so I just sat there with my eyes closed and I listened: to the wind outside, to the cars passing by, to the muffled sound of the neighbors living their lives through the walls – to the sound of my daughter breathing down the hall as sleep took her away…and I felt like I was finally “home” for the first time in a long time!
I had found refuge at last, and ben delivered from a bad situation…
There were plenty of hard times to come, but at least the big move was over, and I don’t just mean the physical move of furniture and belongings! Leaving was very difficult to do, although there was no way the marriage could be saved, I still felt that sense of commitment and yes…love towards my soon to be ex-wife, I had taken my vows seriously, and it was hard to just walk away. It took much thought, and a lot of talking with friends and professionals before I could actually take the steps that were inevitable.
It was hard to leave, but not as hard as staying…but now it was over…and as I sat there in my living room, sitting, listening and not thinking, I felt the presence of God in my heart, my life, and in my living room, I knew that had had been delivered…so I closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanks for myself and my daughter, grateful for our new life, and filled with hope for the future.
Life was not easy as we began this new life, as I was not well equipped to be a single father and had to learn a lot on the fly (as most parents do) and there were struggles, both emotional and financial ahead. I was still reeling from the separation and the damage caused by the last few months of the marriage. I was also (almost) clue-less about raising a lively two and a half year old girl and often felt overwhelmed.
It is funny that just as we got over one hurdle, and became comfortable with our ‘routine’ it would change again, and another learning opportunity would present itself, as kids do not always stay the same and tend to grow up quicker than we’d always like.
Change does not always come easy…and I would often cycle through feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated and then I would finally find my confidence (with the help of prayer, and the good advice of those close to me)…until faced with another trial, when we would start the cycle of learning all over again.
When faced with these challenges…from finding the missing toy that my daughter could not sleep without, to getting her to eat something other than mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets, all the way to struggles with relationships, schoolwork, dropping out and dealing with law enforcement personnel, ER visits, and finally re-hab; I have always taken time out to stop, breath and pray when feeling overwhelmed.
Often I took a break by going for a long ride on the bicycle, making it a point to stop in the park and say a prayer while looking out over the lake and watch the fish jump. I would also hike and feel the peace of the woods, take a drive to just get away…or sometimes just to and take a moment in my room, to listen to the sounds of the neighborhood…just like I did on that first night of being single. Whatever I did, and whenever I did it, and no matter how upset or frustrated I felt…even when I was mad at God, I could feel a connection with God.
At times when it seems like my life is spinning away from me, as if God’s attention is elsewhere…it would help for me to stop, if even for a moment, catch my breath, say a prayer, and ‘get out of my own head’ in order to reconnect with God, and remember that we are never anywhere that the light of God’s love cannot reach us.
For it is through the Risen Christ that God delivers us from our struggles over and over again…as it is immersed in God’s grace that we find our true refuge in times of trouble, and the joy of God’s presence in our lives, and the lives of our children.
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for giving us the refuge of your grace when we are in times of trouble; for giving us reasons to rejoice in the midst of our everyday lives. Help us to turn to you when times are tough, and to share our joy when times are good with you and with each other. Thank you that you give us good people to help us remember that your light shines everywhere we are…no matter how dark the days may be. Let us share this light with our children and with all those around us…giving others hope to face each day with the faith that you are always with us.